It is known that in breast cancer biology, autophagy mainly plays a cytoprotective and anti-apoptotic role in vitro, being conceivably responsible for cell resistance to drug exposure and a higher metastatic attitude in vivo. Thus, the development of novel autophagy-targeting agents represents a valuable strategy to improve the efficacy of anticancer interventions. It is widely acknowledged that the enormous biodiversity of marine organisms represents a highly promising reserve for the isolation of bioactive primary and secondary metabolites targeting one or several specific molecular pathways and displaying active pharmacological properties against a variety of diseases. The aim of this review is to pick up selected studies that report the extraction and identification of marine animal-derived extracts or isolated compounds which exert a modulatory effect on the autophagic process in breast cancer cells and list them with respect to the taxonomical hierarchy of the producing species. Where available, the molecular and biochemical aspects associated with the molecules or extracts under discussion will be also summarized.
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